Alumni marketing on LinkedIn
So you’ve been out of school for a few years now and you’ve made a name for yourself. Maybe you graduated five years ago, maybe 50, but engaging fellow alumni is an amazing use for LinkedIn not only because you’re not cold calling (which I can’t stomach), but building a network of people that already know your face and probably trust you (unless you were a jerk in school, in which case, you can probably skip this entire article).
First, let’s talk about how LinkedIn has made it easy to connect with alumni from college, how to find high school alumni, and lastly, we’ll address a plan of action.
Call it engaging or marketing, reaching out or expanding business, or whatever you like, but if you’re struggling to remember that LinkedIn exists (guilty), this is a great way to use the tool.
1. One click to find college alumni
If you went to college, even if you didn’t finish, you already entered when you went to that school when you set up your LinkedIn profile, so the LinkedIn machine knows who else went to your university during that entire period (even if it took you five years like me).
If you’re logged in, going to LinkedIn.com/Alumni will automatically pull up amazing stats like where people live, what they do, and so on:
2. Quick search for high school alumni
If you went to the nation’s largest university like I did, the alumni marketing option is fairly useless. It’s great to see how many people ended up as VPs or Engineers, but blindly reaching out to people and saying “hey, we went to college together” having never met is creepy, especially since most of the current population of Austin and a huge portion of Dallas and Houston are UT alumni.
In that case, high school might be a better angle for you. When logged in, at the top of the page next to the search bar, click “Advanced” and search criteria pop up on the left. In the “school” field, simply type in your high school and nothing more. It is nowhere near as useful as the college results and you’ll see all alumni, but it’s a start. Click “Search” and you’ll get this type of result:
What to do with this information
There are endless ways to “market” to alumni, but start out by looking into people you’ve lost touch with, even if you weren’t best friends in school, so long as you’ve at least met. Ten minutes each day could expand your network in a very meaningful way, and here’s how:
- Minute 1: search for alumni, identify four familiar faces
- Minute 2 – 5: read profiles, get familiar with their career paths, what led them to where they are, determine if connecting would benefit their career or yours
- Minute 6-10: message each with a brief sentence or two, inviting them to connect
In that message with your invitation, you can remind them how you know each other (“I haven’t seen you since the old Lake Travis days!”), let them know that you’re looking to connect and how connecting can benefit you both (“it looks like we both ended up in the financial services sector and maybe the investors that don’t pick us could be sent your way and vice versa”) and some way to reach out (“if you’re up for a chat to catch up, would email, phone, LinkedIn, or smoke signals work best for you?”).
Don’t expect every person to respond, because let’s face it, some people forget LinkedIn exists and don’t always respond in a timely manner. Also, some people really are online to exclusively connect with a specific type of contact (clients, family, what have you). As with any social network, ensure that your tone matches your natural tone, you don’t try to sell them something or beat them over the head about meeting for coffee (I swear if I’m invited to ONE.MORE.COFFEE…), just gently reach out.
You won’t bat a thousand, but at least you’re up to bat when others aren’t even in the stadium.